SI.com has released the second installment in its week-long expose of the Oklahoma State football program. Second verse, same as the first.
Once again there’s quite a bit of focus on the Les Miles era in Stillwater. And once again, Miles doesn’t hold up well under the microscope.
Among Sports Illustrated’s allegations:
* Miles deemphasized academics during his tenure at OSU. According to SI.com, “13 Cowboys who played between 2000 and ’11 told SI that they participated in some form of academic misconduct, and 16 others were named by teammates as also having had schoolwork done for them.”
* One former OSU player, Fath’ Carter, said, “The goal was not to educate but to get them the passing grades they needed to keep playing. That’s the only thing it was about.”
* Carter also said the Miles brought in players who were “lesser students” and “things had to be put in place to help them.”
* More damning, one academic adviser tossed Miles under the bus (a school bus in this case): “There was never pressure (to cheat), but Miles was like most coaches who want to be somewhere else. They’re going to do what they need to do for two or three years, and they’re not going to have to deal with whatever the fallout is. So, no, he didn’t promote academics.”
Quite naturally, Miles denied the accusations. “I always said, and I always meant, that academics was the most important thing.” OK, but the coach did admit to telling his team, “Academics first,” while holding up two fingers and “Football second,” while holding up a single finger. According to the coach he did that just once in “a moment of humor.”
As SI’s drip-by-drip, water torture of the coach continues, it’s doubtful Miles is feeling many moments of humor these days.
In Miles defense, a number of former Oklahoma State players came forward to rip the piece. The snitches who told their stories to SI.com’s writers are being quickly discredited as well. The Tulsa World claims: “of the 12 former players either pointed fingers or admitted guilt, nine either were kicked out of school, dismissed from the program, transferred for playing time issues or just quit. Of those, several had criminal records.”
The never over-the-top Jason Whitlock has also come forward to eviscerate former colleague Thayer Evans, one of the co-writers of SI’s Oklahoma State piece. Yesterday, Whitlock had this to say to Oklahoma City radio station WWLS-FM 98.1:
“Having worked with Thayer Evans at Fox Sports, having followed his work for some time, I am completely and utterly flabbergasted that a legitimate new outlet would allow Thayer Evans to be involved in some type of investigative piece on college football that tears down a program, and particularly one that tears down Oklahoma State when it is no secret what a huge, enormous, gigantic Oklahoma homer Thayer Evans is. This is just incredible. Knowing the lack of competence that’s there with Thayer Evans, knowing the level of simplemindedness that’s there with Thayer Evans, to base any part of the story on his reportign is mind-boggling…
When I learned Thayer Evans was involved, I just said, there’s no way I’ll read this because there’s no reason to trust this reporter on anything of any substance…
He’s simpleminded. He’s a hack that can’t write. This isn’t personal, I promise. I have no reason to dislike Thayer Evans personally, and I don’t. But I’ve read enough of his work (and) this guy isn’t qualified for this job and by now Sports Illustrated and anybody else should be well aware of this…
Let me end by saying this and I honestly mean this without malice. It wouldn’t shock me if Thayer Evans couldn’t spell “cat” and I say (that) in all seriousness.”
Um, yeah. That’s doesn’t sound personal at all.
One person who didn’t attack the pied or its writers was Oklahoma State AD Mike Holder. He had this to say on Monday:
“Unfortunately, we’ve got something out there on the horizon that we’re going to be have to deal with. I don’t know a lot of specifics. I know enough to be very concerned. Sports Illustrated sent two very capable people in here to talk to us last week. George Dohrmann, who is a writer on the story, he did win a Pulitzer Prize. The investigative editor, I had never met one of those before, his name was BJ Schecter. He was an impressive young man. They believe what they’re about to write is true. As the athletic director at Oklahoma State and an alumnus of the university, I don’t want to believe that it’s true.”
That’s not how you run a smear campaign. Somebody get Holder in touch with Whitlock.
Your feelings about this story likely will be determined by your favorite set of colors. If they happen to be purple and gold, Whitlock and the former players bagging the story are to be believed.
If your favorite colors are crimson, maroon, or red and blue, then this story exposes Miles and calls into question what kind of program he’s running in Baton Rouge.
The bottom line — as we mentioned yesterday — is that there’s very little chance that the NCAA will hit Oklahoma State or Miles with any types of sanctions over incidents that allegedly took place as far back as a decade ago.
And don’t forget, Part 3 of Sports Illustrated’s expose goes live tomorrow.
“I revered my time in Stillwater,” Miles said. “The idea that someone would characterize the program that was run there as anything but right and correct . . .did we work hard? You betcha. Did we make tough decisions about starting lineups? You betcha. But every guy was encouraged to get his degree, stay the course and fight.
“I can tell you that people that were commenting on the state of the program weren’t there long enough to figure it out. They heard me tell them attend class, do the right things and heard me routinely. I’m going to withhold further comment. I can tell you that staff, family and friends, anybody that sat in our meeting rooms, knew that this thing was done right. I want to withhold further comment to get my team ready to play against a quality Kent State. That’s my push.”